mon·​goose ˈmän-ˌgüs How to pronounce mongoose (audio) ˈmäŋ- How to pronounce mongoose (audio)
plural mongooses also mongeese ˈmän-ˌgēs How to pronounce mongoose (audio)
: any of numerous long slender carnivorous mammals (family Herpestidae) chiefly of Africa and southern Europe and Asia that are usually ferret-sized agile mammals typically with nonretractile sharp claws, short legs, long tail, and usually brownish or grayish fur sometimes with bands or stripes

Note: Mongooses feed chiefly on small animals (such as insects, earthworms, birds, snakes, and rodents) and are sometimes grouped with the viverrids in two subfamilies (Herpestinae and Galidiinae).

Illustration of mongoose

Illustration of mongoose

Examples of mongoose in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Researchers have observed that the wild pigs lie down when mongooses are around, allowing themselves to be plucked and pruned of any ticks or other parasites. Sean Mowbray, Discover Magazine, 25 Oct. 2023 There’s all kinds of stuff that has tried to be a bit catlike in different ways—mongooses, things like that. Kate Wong, Scientific American, 4 Oct. 2023 These extinct mongoose relatives were about 240 pounds–roughly the size of a lioness–and went extinct about 500,000 years ago. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 28 Sep. 2023 Feral cats, rats and mongooses, meanwhile, ate unsuspecting ground-nesting birds. Dino Grandoni, Anchorage Daily News, 25 Aug. 2023 Cane toads have become a plague in Australia far worse than the sugarcane-eating beetles they were supposed to control, while mongooses that were introduced to kill rats in places such as Jamaica and Fiji have instead decimated certain populations of the islands’ unique native birds. Nala Rogers, Popular Mechanics, 9 Aug. 2023 In Fodor’s, a mongoose voiced by Neil Gaiman calls him on the telephone. Bethy Squires, Vulture, 19 July 2023 When the islands became fused to the mainland the mongoose spread southwards and developed into its present jaguar-like form. Discover Magazine, 31 May 2018 And yes, belief in the mongoose (Gef) appears to work as an analogy for belief in God (God). Bethy Squires, Vulture, 19 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mongoose.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Hindi & Marathi mãgūs, from Prakrit maṁgūsa

First Known Use

1673, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of mongoose was in 1673

Dictionary Entries Near mongoose

Cite this Entry

“Mongoose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


mon·​goose ˈmän-ˌgüs How to pronounce mongoose (audio) ˈmäŋ- How to pronounce mongoose (audio)
plural mongooses
: any of various quick-moving mammals with a long slender body and long tail that are about the size of a ferret and feed chiefly on small animals and fruit

More from Merriam-Webster on mongoose

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!